Fighting the impact of methane with TeknTrash

One small start-up is fighting the impact of greenhouse gas, methane, and the impact of human waste. 

There are some wild ideas out there in the cleantech world. But since apple pulp vegan leather has worked, no idea should be scorned at. Enter TeknTrash.

The British start-up uses artificial intelligence to identify waste at landfill sites. TeknTrash then looks at the sales history of the product to inform companies about their consumer data. They look at how long it took for the product to be disposed of after being sold. 

“TeknTrash is kind of a strange company, in the sense that, we are not in the renewable or recycling sphere, but in the data sphere,” explained CEO, Al Costa. “However, we honestly believe that at the end, we will end up creating more environmental value, that many of the companies focused on that area.”

Recycling rewards

While zero-waste and recycling are gaining popularity across the world, TeknTrash is also looking at what is wasted and could still be useful to businesses.

“Our end product, data, is more valuable than paper, glass or metal, so we are able to generate more revenue,” Costa said.

This is not a form of data mining, where existing databases are searched to acquire new details. TeknTrash uses a service called Stipra

Stipra members (who can register for free) can take a photo or a video of the items they no longer need and throw away the products. For each item that Stipra recognises, the user earns points and are ranked among other users. 

Explaining the importance of Stipra to the start-up, Costa stated:

There [in Stipra], regular people take pictures of their consumer products, before throwing them in the trash – and get paid for it. Companies then go to Stipra and consume that data, geolocating where their products ended up and thus generating useful sales patterns.”

Methane is to blame

Costa hopes that TeknTrash will have an impact on what is left at landfill sites, with people thinking more carefully about life after landfill and the environmental impact. 

“Through better rewards,” Costa said, “We create an incentive for people to recycle better. So at the end, less methane – the most common greenhouse gas produced at dumpsites – is generated, thus creating a real carbon decrease.” 

Whilst methane is well known to be produced by cows when they pass gas, methane is also created in landfills, as well as in the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas from the Earth.

Within one year of solid waste being left in a landfill, the rubbish endures aerobic decomposition, where a small amount of methane is created. 

Then, methane-producing bacteria start decomposing the thrown away items, generating a higher volume of the odourless and colourless methane which weakens our atmosphere. 

In 2018, Methane comprised 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions for that year. Whilst carbon dioxide stood at 81% and is certainly a more severe problem to be dealt with, 

Even if the whole planet stopped using cows in animal agriculture, the greenhouse gas would still be produced in landfill sites and unofficial rubbish dumps. But, exciting start-up, TeknTrash, is making an effort to lower this. 

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.